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Dispatchers Screen Medical Calls

By David Howell


WATER VALLEY – As concern mounts for a possible outbreak of Ebola, dispatchers in Yalobusha County are now asking a few simple questions when people call the 911 dispatch center with a medical emergency.

The questions asked are about any recent travel to a county where an Ebola outbreak is occurring and about symptoms of the disease including fever, vomiting and muscle weakness.

Sheriff Lance Humphreys reported his department received the checklist from the Mississippi Department of Health (MSDH) and dispatchers and implemented the list earlier in the week. The Ebola Virus Disease Screening Algorithm provides guidance to both the dispatcher and paramedics for a patient deemed at-risk.

The patient is to be isolated in a single room with a private bathroom with the door to the hallway closed. Healthcare workers are to wear a gown, facemask, eye protection and gloves. Next the hospital’s infection control program and other appropriate staff are to be notified, and finally notify MSDH.

The precautionary move comes as the country’s second healthcare worker, Amber  Vinson, was diagnosed with Ebola Tuesday in Dallas. The Centers for Disease Control reported Wednesday that Vinson had flown on a commercial flight with 132 passengers just a day before her diagnosis. The first health care worker infected, Nina Pham, is showing signs of improvement according to CNN. Both healthcare workers were infected by Thomas Eric Duncan, who came to the United States after being infected in Liberia.

Humphreys said the implementation of the checklist is not a cause for concern and emergency call centers across the nation are taking similar steps to screen medical calls for obvious signs of a patient who may have Ebola. 

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